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tv   Charlie Rose  Bloomberg  June 6, 2014 10:00pm-11:01pm EDT

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>> from our studios in new york, this is "charlie rose." >> jay carney is here. he is the white house press secretary.
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he has served since 2011. he was rector of communications for vice president biden. he spent his career at time magazine. his position at the magazine was washington bureau chief. president obama announced that he had accepted carney's resignation. >> one of his favorite lines is i have no personnel announcements at this time. but, i do. it is bittersweet. it involves one of my closest friends here in washington. in april, jay came to me and said he was thinking about moving on. i was not thrilled, to say the least. he has been on my team since day one. for two years but the vice president, with us as the press secretary. >> i am pleased to have jay
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carney back at this table. welcome. >> thank you. >> what was that moment like for you? >> i thought about it for a while. we wanted it to be a surprise. once i got to the president in april and had a sad but gratifying conversation about why it was time, with my children, and the age that they are, we decided the best way to do this was quickly and discreetly. and, what may be wonderful to surprise the white house press corps? we thought through this notion of them interacting the briefing and catch them off guard. it was still a tough moment. i realized what he was saying
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represented what i felt about this experience. the best thing about it has been in midlife to find myself amid all of these new people, focus on one thing, which is not self interesting. to be on this team, and to make, and to feel as i leave these are people i will want to fight for and fight with forever. it has been a remarkably rewarding experience. >> the relationship with him, he has said you are one of his best friends. you were not part of the inner circle that got him elected. those are the people closest the president. how did you go from a guy that
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was a member of the press in good standing through biden, and to president, and create the sense that he is one of your best friends. >> i am the perfect example of why one of the myths about barack obama is a myth. that he is insular, and he doesn't want new people in his world. because, i barely knew him when i joined the white house as a reporter. i met him a few times. facilitated a few meetings with editors. until i came to work for the vice president i hadn't had much of a relationship. it says so much about our country. one of the reasons why we got
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along is because even though he is barack hussein obama, born in hawaii, grew up in hawaii, and i am jay carney from virginia, we have a similar worldview and temperament, and come at things in a way that is very unified. we both have two kids. we have been through a lot of the same things in recent years with our kids. when we sat down and talked, long trips on air force one, it would be about those things, and not just go with the press was saying. >> which raises an interesting question. i've talked about you. they have said to me a couple of them, it was amazing how fast he went from a reporter at the top
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of his game, having served around the world and then in moscow, which is a great experience, from that skeptic, probing, prove it, to a guy who went into the white house and became a true believer. fast, quick. >> i don't disagree. >> overnight. >> i don't think you sign up for something like this if you don't believe in it. or believe in the president and the vice president. whichever party you are with him a whichever administration you join, if you're not doing it for that reason you shouldn't do it. i did. even though i was an old cool reporter and i played it down the middle, i was not an advocate as a reporter for time magazine.
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even had folks who were surprised, thought i was a republican when i joined the team. i believed in what they were doing. i believed the time was right for the change they were presented. and had been very comfortable and proud of what the president has done. >> as i understand it, you placed a call to the administration after they won, saying maybe there is a job for me. >> the truth is, i called one of my best friends, and he was at the time working for joe biden in the senate as a senior staff member on foreign relations. tony and i are in a terrible garage band together. he is more talented than i am. i was excited for him. i congratulated him. he knew my personal feelings about how much i was glad that they had won.
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we talked that maybe i should do this too. that led to the conversation at the vice president was live for communications director. i spoke to my wife and basically no one else and said, i would be interested in that. that is exciting. i knew senator biden, but not well. we had both been in washington for a while. long story short, suddenly during the transition i was leaving "time magazine" to join this new white house. >> were you disillusioned with reporting? with the relationship between the press and government? >> that came after. >> anything having to do with you weren't settled with what you were doing or disillusioned by the way the world work? >> no, i loved my years at "time."
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during the coup in moscow, i was on air force one covering george w. bush on 9/11, and amazing things in between. the only factor that played into my decision at the time related to my feelings for journalism, i was ready for something new. not that i was a solution. i wrote for a living for 21 years. every story came hard for me. some people it is easy, they write and write. i wish i can be one of them. every story was top. every paragraph. i had gotten to a point where i didn't have that kind of fear when i said unto write a story. that told me it was time to do something new. but was great about getting the
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opportunity to go to the white house is that for the first time in both jobs, i woke up every morning wondering i was cut out to do this job. whether i could do. >> confidence to do it. >> it is new. when you cover a white house like i did, you think you know a lot about how the white house works, how press shops work. within five minutes of joining the vice president's team, i learned i had a lot to learn. i knew the surface about strategic communications, how you want to say things, how you want to frame policy choices, how you will your principal to talk about it. i was lucky. the reporter you mentioned
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before, saying how weekly i change perspectives, part of that was i was lucky because i spent those years behind the scenes with the vice president, not at the podium. i learned a lot and had a lot of great teachers, like robert gibbs, and the vice president's chief of staff. by the time i had done the two years, i felt ready to cross the street to the briefing room. >> did you make this decision because you are saying goodbye to journalism? >> in the way i had practiced it. >> you would not be a reporter again. >> i don't see that my future. maybe i will write some more. i don't think i'll be out there going after the story the way i
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used to. i have fond memories of doing that. >> there was a sense, i'm say goodbye to part of my life. you can go back and forth. >> i think that is right. i think, again, i've done things that i felt good about. i had great experiences. >> history at a great time. >> and have that front row seat again from a different perspective. >> what percentage reporters covering the white house every day, whose business it is to understand and discover what is going on, what percentage do you think they know, or can know? >> the good ones know 15%, 20%. because they are good, reasonably, and carefully extrapolate beyond that. a lot of what you don't know is not necessarily the most important information.
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the one thing you find inside is how much passes through the white house. the bandwidth of that building and those who work in that building is extraordinarily broad. there is so much going on in there. it is too much for reporters who cover it. that is partly the result of this concentration of focus on the white house has been developing for decades. where it makes you look at the way news media covers washington and politics. especially the networks and tv, but everyone. more and more, everything is focused on the white house. they used to have the reporters covering the agencies and
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subcommittees of capitol hill. now it is just this is the locust of power, that gets replicated where all the decisions had to be made in the white house. >> is social media the biggest change since you are a reporter? >> unquestionably. it is funny and interesting to talk to my predecessors from previous administrations, about how different the job was, and the cycle, which seemed fast with the advent of cable news, that seemed suddenly all the engines were having to churn much faster and longer because of that. now, at the briefing room, half the questions i get are people looking at their iphone or
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blackberry and saying i just saw this on twitter, can you respond? you are in a dynamic that is fueled by the instantaneous revelation on the hour. >> this was a question i was going to ask regardless of how much i had read. how was it different than you imagined? i speaking specifically about the white house. the first difference was working for the vice president. what is it from inside that you didn't understand or expect? like the first thing i noticed was how small it was. >> what is? >> the room, the number of people, the humanness of the enterprise.
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it is the center of power in the most powerful country on earth. and yet,, and even when you are down the hall in the briefing room, you are removed enough from it that there is enough mistry they create a sense of grandeur that inevitably doesn't exist to the extent you imagined it. it is a handful of people sitting in the offices sorting out policy options for incomplete information coming from abroad in a crisis. and, trying to get to the decision point. that struck me. the intimacy of it. what also struck me, the scale. >> and the president deals with everything. >> and every challenge that
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arises, natural disaster, an event overseas, a scandal in congress, they are all something he has to answer for. the press secretary has to answer for it too. what i learned was the scope of questions i might get asked on any given day. we were imagining with the subjects might be. >> did you have a problem in the white house with not having access, not being at the meeting, not having access to the way decisions were being made and conversations about making policy? rather than someone saying this as we will need to say. >> the answer is no. i didn't have a problem. when i came in i was clearly not in the inner circle. i think there was a goal, given that my predecessor was close to the president, and played a role as press secretary and advisor. exactly.
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so, i was returned to the more traditional press secretary structure. i made the case early on to what ended up being a series of chiefs of staff and others. it was important to be in the room, not necessarily because i was going to volunteer policy advice, although i might if i felt like i had anything to say, at times. but, i was careful about doing that.
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i needed to hear it talked about and hear the president talk about it. in those rooms where he talked about his views of things, anyway he was looking at the decision, i learned the parameters within which i could describe the policy decisions he made, or the process. he created beyond here is the policy, here are the talking points. i knew the scope of his thinking on all of these issues. they gave me a lot. i felt more comfortable about talking about something if i had heard him talk about it inside. i knew what he would say. >> you are the right to have the
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same access robert gibbs had. >> i had no problems with access to the president, ever. >> if you went to the president said i'd understand this? >> sure. we do a prep for my briefing. i would go down the hall and say can i have them for a few minutes. or his door was open and i would go when and ask them. i think he appreciated from me and others being asked. but you don't want, what happens in institutions and organizations, people are so careful about, or there isn't a relationship that allows for the kind of give and take the present or a ceo that you need, and he can be removed from his staff. senior staff have access to him and are able to hear what he thinks. he wants to hear what they think. >> what is his day like? >> he would be the first to tell you that one of the great joys of being elected was that for the first time he actually was with his family more often. >> john kennedy said you got to walk to work. >> the walk that is so famous for some money photographs, that is his commute.
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>> he is up at 6:00 are 7:00? >> he gets up, he sees his girls before goes to school. he works on the morning whether he is traveling. >> i want to talk about that. that was this morning. watching this, someone photographing the president working out. >> he is just a regular guy. >> secret services all around him. >> they are hotel guests. it is kind of funny, we haven't seen this before, the president does this everywhere he travels. >> he works out in public gyms. >> they don't ask anybody to leave. if you're a guest in your gym clothes, you might have to wait
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for the leader of the free world to take your turn, but he works out like anybody else. it is part of what keeps him levelheaded. he is very disciplined about getting that in. then he comes in and works on the morning, not unlike most presidents, usually does his intelligence briefing. chief of staff, vice resident security advisor, deputy national security advisor. press secretary is never in it. not that i have been aware of. there is an intelligence provocation as well. we have security clearances, but you don't need to know the day-to-day.
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you just need to know the decisions that are being made. it could be a policy meeting, it could be a make a wish visit, it could be a speech or a rose garden ceremony. or, or we could be heading out on a trip. one of the things that never gets old, it is always something to marvel at for me, i would be my office, my system but said he is ready, i grabbed my bag and walked to the oval office, the president was a let's go him and we would walked in back yard and get on a helicopter and fly off. the first time you do that, you feel like you're going to hit it you are so close. it is an amazing experience. >> being in the white house, period.
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>> every day i've been there i have taken a moment to say it is a special place to be. >> does he have rather time in which he simply studies? >> yes. they try to carve it out. his schedulers and chief of staff. they try to protect that for him so he can read, and get some time. potus time. they are pretty good about it. one of the things i was struck by with him when i began traveling with him is that he is the most old school reader of magazines in this country
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anymore. he will plow through magazine after magazine after magazine. in-depth articles, "harpers," he is constantly reading. if he likes the magazines themselves in paper format, although he reads digitally. >> does he learn best by listening or reading about them? >> he does both. i've certainly seen people who are one or the other. he reads a lot. it is gratifying if you write memos, i know they appreciate it back when they go for a meeting, he has actually read it. sometimes it is filled with complex issues, and i've seen him do it, he consumes a lot of information. >> when does he go upstairs? >> 6:30 is the kind of dinner with the family. if there is a crisis, or a
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problem. you can get back, and then he gets working by phone, by e-mail, keeps working with. >> what's the job of the press secretary is, both in terms of how you define your function, your responsibility, and how it works through a day. >> i wasn't the first to say it. the west wing is smaller than most people think. it is smaller than it appeared to be in the television show. it is very small. on the main parlor floor there is the oval in one corner and the chief of staff, and the national security advisor, and the press secretary who has enjoyed a use real estate for years and years.
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what that means is that it becomes our meeting space. it is strategically located halfway between the briefing room and the oval office. all very close together. it is 20 paces from the briefing room to my office. i think that represents what the role of the press secretary is. to serve both the president, the white house, and the administration on one hand, and the press. members of the press feel i could have served them more. >> my friend bill moyers said to me he couldn't serve two masters. >> there is a hierarchy.
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ultimately, you serve the president, the white house, the the administration. the press is an important part of our country. that is part of the service you're providing. first and foremost, you are there to speak for him, accurately represent what he is doing, why he is doing it come and take questions, and some heat for him, and for what you believe. this is where it matters most. what you believe is right when it comes to what he's doing. >> is it that i have to spend our case all the time, our responsibility is to sell our story, rather than my responsibility is to try to help this person who wants to tell a story as best i can, and is there a difference?
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clearly, your interest is make the president denies it look as good as he can. as good as he can. >> we certainly tried. i, and others who work in communications in the white house, we try, and explained, and defend what he is doing. we try to explain in a way that reflects what we believe. he's doing things for the right reasons, and they have the right policies. acknowledging that there'll be disagreements. >> here is the other thing. there is a difference about in my role between what i do at the podium and what i do in my office. the podium has become a theater. i think. most people who participate in it or watch it. he has apologized to every press secretary. he allowed the whole briefing [indiscernible]
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>> why? because it becomes theater? >> yes. they may be interested in the answer. what happens is there is a competition for creating moments, and if you can bear to watch an entire briefing you will note that especially the front row where most the tv correspondent said, i will get the same question six or eight times from those reporters in the first 20 minutes, often asked with increasing degrees of righteous indignation. the answer is going to be the same. >> there has been sharp criticism from two friends of mine. one of the worst communications
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offices he's ever tried to deal with. david stamler said the same thing. >> jim traub, a great foreign-policy writer, when he came to do a piece on the vice president 2009, and i took him cross the street where most of the offices are me with some mid-level nasa security council person, he's from it and said i never got to cross the street under bush and never had anybody help me talk to mid-level national security council person. so, i can fully accept that we are not open on everything. >> mike duffy worked with you at "time magazine." when you look at the white house, the way the white house
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operates, you should add 10%. politics is to pursue more influential than you assume. politics. >> when i mentioned the 15% figure, he was my boss and tell me about covering washington. we are both quoting mike duffy here. but, i think that equation has been reversed. i think that there is the assumption of politics at the start. that everyone thinks it is the determinant factor. part of it is because of the hyper partisanship. part of it is, politics is easy in policy when you're following.
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it is candy. you can see the watch the briefing how everybody lights up and gets excited when there is a question that can be run through the 2016 grinder. if it has a bearing on secretary clinton or governor christie, that is what they want to talk about. they want to talk about the horse race even though it is 2014. there is an assumption that everything we do, and past white houses have done, is driven by political decisions. bailing out detroit, wall street reform, health care reform, the major things this president has done, tell me if those were done because they were political reasons, because they were
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popular, those were tough choices. they were the right things to do. >> those are things he wanted to do because they were essential to do and he had some eye on legacy. >> he believes good policy will pull the country out of the depression. >> the quote is this is the most controlled, control freak and administration i've ever followed. i've never seen a worst communication administration. not since i have been in washington. >> again, i respect those guys tremendously. the closed, control freak. if you look at the newspaper any day or watch the news any day, i
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think it is evident we're not controlling the news or having it dictate what is in it. >> it would be better if you were. >> i would also note that there has been talk in this space about clamping down and the chilling effect. in the last two years there have been more serious national security leaks to the media than in any time you and i can remember. len downie came into my office -- i am just saying, they're posted about this to say our approach has caused sources to clam up.
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i don't see how that. reporters were asked if they felt sources were shutting down. 90% said no. >> do believe this president has gotten fair coverage? depends on the institution. overall, has this president received their coverage from the american press? >> within the context of the coverage, yes. i think our coverage, there are issues about the way the media covers washington in general, the sort of politics, and the sort of hyper intensity of what is the scandal of the day, or the week, -- i can't tell you how may times i've been doing this but i've read reporters say that this is the story that is going to bring down the obama
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presidency. a year ago, they were scandal somebody writes about anymore because the approach to them was all about how everyone is looking for the next big fire. the fires burn quickly. the move onto the next one. that is a problem with the way we cover. we don't take the long view as much as we used to. that is driven by the immediacy of social media and internet media. also, a lot of news organizations have cut back on the staff who do longform, either on television or in print. they hire 23-year-olds to do the quick hits. some are super talented.
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it'll bring a lot of institutional experience and knowledge to the job. they cut back on the foreign bureaus, and they focus on the easy stuff. >> most importantly, what are the teaching moments for you? where have they been moments where you have said, this top me something about what i do, with the president does, and the relationship between the president and the press, the president and the american public? and how he defines his responsibility and ambition. >> i guess i can answer that anecdotally. things that have stayed with me that told me a lot about the office, a lot about him, what his election meant to people, and means to people. early on we were in memphis, and we were at school. a school in a tough
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neighborhood, a lot of minority students. he was going to speak. before then, he went and surprised a room full of honor students in the graduating class. this is still first term. the implausibility of him being elected president was still there. in this tough neighborhood, he walked into this room, good students and good kids, and there was a young woman who just wept uncontrollably. he had to hold her, and just make her feel that he was real, and this, and he was proud of her. it was profound. and for a lot of the kids. i think similarly, one moment i remember that tells you a lot about the weight of the office was the day of newtown. and, all presidents have to deal
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with tragedy and they have to go from one moment where you wore having a conversation with a foreign leader and another where you are doing a happy event or something, and another where you are meeting with a gold star family. i think there was something so devastating about newtown. it shook him, visibly. the context of it, that there was a sense that we all had that the core of it,, the injustice of it, even when you are the
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president of united states you feel helpless in that moment. you feel pain of those parents. people ask me, best times and worst times. we've gone through a lot of issues. i think it is fair to say that, in my time, was probably the worst. it was the thing that was so enormously frustrating to him. it was all on us. things happen when you are in the white house. a lot of what happens is challenging, you don't controlling have to manage. this is one we created in we owned, and we blew it. he was ripped about it. this is why i have so much confidence in him. he didn't lose it. he wanted to know what is it fixable? show me it is fixable.
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then go fix it. he didn't do a lot of superficial things. he did things that in the end for the fruit necessary to get this to 8 million. the percentage of uninsured has dropped significantly, clearly because of the affordable care act. those are things i will not forget. >> will they make it a less political issue in the midterms? >> i think republicans will not abandon this. they will keep hitting on it. i think it is harder and harder as policy becomes real for the argument to be we want to take away from you this benefit you now have. we are not offering you anything in return.
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we are offering you the status quo, which you hated. especially if you rent the individual insurance market, and if you were someone who qualifies for medicaid but in the past didn't. i'm not declaring victory on this as a political matter. i think as a substantive matter, it is a profound affect, and it is here to stay. ♪
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>> "time magazine's" cover. tell me what you see. >> i think the answer is clear. when your daughter or son puts on the uniform and goes to war, there is a compact we make with them which says if you go missing, we find you. there is no condition to that. >> the question is raised, if you gave up five taliban members, would you have given up 100? how do you measure the price you are prepared to pay? or is no price too expensive to
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pay if it means doing what stan mcchrystal has said today? we bring our people home. it is unequivocal. >> you assess the price. you weigh the risks. will it succeed? what are the downsides? in this situation, the opportunity presented itself after five years. it was not likely to be an opportunity that would be there for a long time. judgments were made that this was absolutely the right thing to do. >> because? >> because we bring our people home.
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because his health was not good. we had evidence that we need to act quickly and discreetly or that could put him at further risk. and the cost, look. these five taliban are going to a third country. we have received insurance is from the highest levels of the qatari government about the monitoring that will take place. let's be clear. we are winding down. should any of them end up in afghanistan, the u.s. military is cable of handling five taliban. these are men who have been imprisoned in the custody of united states for a dozen years. we are confident we have the tools and resources necessary to deal with them if that becomes an issue. >> is it fair to see that you want to see the facts before you say if he was a deserter.
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>> absolutely. it is important to look to the seniormost uniform member of the military, the chairman of the joint chiefs, the vice chairman, and hear what they say about this. which is that there is no condition to bringing back our men and women in uniform. there is a process that will take place that we will evaluate the circumstances of his disappearance and his capture. that is how it should be. when it came to the last prisoner of these wars, the two longest wars in our history, we absolutely had to get him back, and the opportunity that presented itself was the right one to take.
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>> the negotiation to bring them back for more than a year. >> he had been gone for five years. every option was examined. every possibility when it came to negotiating was explored. we had a direct conduit with the taliban for a while as part of the reconciliation process. that broke down. the discussions about bergdahl -- there are different circumstance on the ground. it may be true. we are not going to the bank on it. it may be evidence that there is a possibility for restoration of reconciliation. remember, the taliban are a part of afghanistan. peace can only come if there's reconciliation.
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if taliban agree to abide by the afghan constitution and the laws of the land, and lay down their arms and renounce al qaeda. when president obama took office, he inherited policy or policies -- where leaders told him it was in disarray. if you asked any people on the ground in afghanistan in 2009, you would get five different answers. the president ran for office and make clear we would refocus on what was the clear mission, to go after those who attacked us on 9/11, and to be actually focused on that. he increased troop levels. pretty significantly. >> the surge. >> as part of that effort. the focus on al qaeda as opposed
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to a grander vision of trying to bring jeffersonian democracy to afghanistan, or to be the taliban, was the right policy to pursue and in the interest of the united states, and has been successful. we have done serious damage to core al qaeda in afghanistan. that is why we need to bring the war to an end. even as we leave. even as we focus our attention now on al qaeda affiliates elsewhere. >> the president seems to indicate is the threat to national security. are you hopeful that somehow someway, whatever transpired, it was successful. the taliban got what they
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wanted. the united states got what they wanted. that was somehow resolve to an end of the war in afghanistan with the taliban. >> the only way the war ends, where afghans and afghans reconcile. we have long supported an afghan led process in which we would play a participatory role. it does have to be afghan led. i think as i said earlier, i don't want to be overly optimistic. talks broke down in the past. they haven't resumed. we do believe that that is the path that has to be taken. this might be indicative of a
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new willingness to pursue it. we will see. what are focus on this was about was about trying to spark reconciliation talks. >> and time will tell us what he did or did not do. there'll be appropriate action. >> yes. that is the separation general dempsey has made clear. if we bring him home, that is what we do. that is the sacred trust we have with our soldiers. we deal with these other issues. >> there is no way you can't write a book. you can be in this process and see what you have seen, and have a life that you have had, and as you said, at a time of great change in russia, 9/11, being on the plane with the president, and the experience of more than you can tell to write a book. that is history. >> i have to get sleep first. then i would think about. like thank you for coming.
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>> thank you for coming. jay carney, press secretary for obama, leaving for some new life thank you. ♪
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